LEXINGTON, Ky. – New year, same Rhyne Howard as the sophomore guard started 2020 by scoring 28 points against South Carolina followed by a career-best 37 points Sunday in Kentucky’s thrilling win over Tennessee earning her espnW National Player of the Week honors.
It was an impressive week for the sophomore guard who started the new year by scoring 28 points with six rebounds and two assists at South Carolina, which was the most points she had scored in a Southeastern Conference game in her career. She bested that performance Sunday against Tennessee, hitting a school-record tying seven 3-pointers with a career-best 37 points against the Lady Vols. Howard led Kentucky in points, rebounds (9), assists (5), steals (3) and blocks (2).
The strong performances were the third and fourth straight 25+ scoring games for Howard, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat since All-American Valerie Still did it during the 1980-81 season. Howard’s 37 points were the most scored by any SEC player this season and marked the most points scored by a UK player against Tennessee in program history. The native of Cleveland, Tennessee, becomes the fifth UK player ever to score 37 or more points in the game and the first since Makayla Epps had 42 against Mississippi State on Feb. 12, 2015.
Howard, who is the first UK player since Epps in 2016-17 to have multiple 30+ point scoring games in the same season, is having a remarkable season for Kentucky averaging 22.6 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game while leading the team with 46 3s made and 29 steals. Howard ranks top-10 nationally and second in the SEC in field-goals made, 3-point field-goals made, total points and points per game. The guard has scored 20 or more points nine times this season and has led Kentucky in scoring 11 times and in rebounds six times.
For her career, Howard has 841 points, needing just 159 more to join Kentucky’s 1,000-point club. In 46 career games, Howard has hit at least one 3 in 41 games, scored 10+ in 39 games, scored 20+ in 19 games and led UK in scoring in 27 games. In early December, Howard was named the SEC Player of the Week by the league office for her impressive performances against Charlotte and Samford. That honor was the first of its kind from the league office for Howard, who last year set a new league record by being named SEC Freshman of the Week eight times.
The reigning unanimous national freshman of the year last season, Howard has been tabbed to nearly every watch list for national honors, including the Citizen Naismith Trophy Top 50, John R. Wooden Award Top 30, Cheryl Miller Award Preseason Watch List, WBCA Preseason Wade Watch List, USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Watch List and was Preseason All-SEC First Team by both league coaches and league media.
Kentucky (12-2, 1-1 SEC) is currently ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 and will return to action Thursday at Alabama at 8 p.m. ET on SEC Network Plus before traveling to Florida on Sunday for a Noon ET tip on ESPNU.